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Eec Heads Of Government (Meeting)

Volume 886: debated on Tuesday 11 February 1975

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asked the Prime Minister if, at the forthcoming meeting of EEC Heads of State in Dublin, he will raise the question of the rĂ´le of EEC Commissioners in the internal affairs of member States.

While the agenda for this meeting is still to be arranged, I have no intention of raising the matter referred to in the Question.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that that will disappoint many hon. Members? When I asked the Foreign Secretary whether he would review the terms of appointment of the Commissioners, particularly in respect of their activities in their own States, I understood that there was no responsibility, and the Minister of State referred me to their employers. Since Article 10 of the merger treaty makes the activities of Commissioners independent, but at the same time makes it clear that they are appointed by member States, does my right hon. Friend not think that we should consider this matter, particularly in view of the activities of certain Commissioners in the recent past?

This is a free country, and anyone placed in the position described by my hon. Friend is free to propagate his views within the law. I am sure that Commissioners will not spend so much time on missionary work as to neglect the long overdue reforms of the Commission's work, duties, costs and staffing, for which the Federal German Chancellor has called, with my full agreement. Of course, when people go on a propaganda mission, I am sure that they are always very careful to make a self-assessment as to the productivity or counter-productivity of their campaign.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when a Common Market Commissioner expresses his views in public in this country he is not infringing any rule of Cabinet responsibility?

Yes, I have already said that this is a free country, and that he is free to do it. We all hope that he will not so overtax himself as to be unable to devote himself to the other urgent reforms of the Commission's responsibilities within the field laid upon Commissioners by the Treaty of Rome.